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27 November 2005 | Uncompleted

Transcending the Temporal Duplicity Sustained by the Baconian Era

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Potential temporal duplicity

There is a case for asking whether there is not an extremely fundamental level of temporal duplicity associated with the social initiatives and projects of a range of disciplines -- whether or not it is consciously intended or deliberately exploitative. Such duplicity would notably be associated with a pattern of false promises regarding the future. The disciplines might include:

Formal models for development

Temporal Potemkin



Chronological vs Kairotic time

Examples of "positive" kairotic experiences / kairotic spaces

Covert institutional initiatives to control (and exploit) the experience of time ?

Manipulative deployment of global "utility grids" and "networks" ?

Exploitative institutionalization of kairotic experiences ?

Consequent emergence of "negative" kairotic experiences

Methods of appreciation of the kairotic moment

Transcending the dysfunctional duplicity

Challenge to "globalization" by interlocking grids -- through "global" quality of the moment


Be wary of questionable movement out of kairotic time

Biology: organic vs inorganic -- vital



Marshaling evidence from many sources across the broad spectrum of our computerized, time-compact civilization, social commentator Jeremy Rifkin senses a revolutionary change in human time-consciousness. He argues that by organizing our lives around schedules of increasing precision, we lose the freedom of imprecision. By concentrating on immediate gains we lose the human privilige of seeing the world in terms of history - and benefiting from it. By depending more and more on rhythms and tempos that were created in support of industrial civilization, we force ourselves into temporal molds other than those, created by organic evolution. The result is a social jet lag whose long-term effects go unexamined. 'Time Wars' is a challenge to social scientists, psychologists, biologists and humanists alike to examine critically and help create a public attitude towards time that supports rather than works against human dignity.


Eric Alliez. Capital Times : Tales from the Conquest of Time. University of Minnesota Press, 1996 (Theory Out of Bounds, Vol 6)

Jose Arguelles

Jay Cross. Fifty Books and Articles about Time [reviews]

John De Graaf (Ed).. Take Back Your Time: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America. Berrett-Koehler 2003.

Mike Donaldson. Taking Our Time: Remaking the Temporal Order. University of Western Australia Press, 1996

Eknath Easwaran. Take Your Time: Finding Balance in a Hurried World, Hyperion 1997.

Waverly Fitzgerald. Living in Season

J T Fraser:

Jean Gebser. The Everpresent Origin. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1953 [Trans. Algis Mickunas]

James Gleick. Faster : The Acceleration of Just About Everything, 1999 [comments]

Jay Griffiths. A Sideways Look at Time, Tarcher 1999.

Arlie Russell Hochschild. The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work. Owl Books, 2001

Professor Hochschild's research documents the time-famine families feel now that the majority of parents work full-time. She also examines the role of 'good' companies that try to meet workers needs, and how too much of a good thing can be a trap that places childrens needs at the bottom of the 'list of things to do.'

Anthony Judge

David Kettler and Colin Loader. Temporizing with Time Wars: Karl Mannheim and Problems of Historical Time. Time Society. 2004; 13: 155-172.

Robert V. Levine. A Geography of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist, or How Every Culture Keeps Time Just a Little Bit Differently. Basic Books/Perseus, 1997

C. A. Mallmann and Oscar Nudler (Eds). Time. Cultures, and Development, Bariloche (Argentina): Fundacion Bariloche, 1986

Gregory Mengel. Running Out of Time: the Western urge to escape time and the dire consequences for life. PCC Spring 2001 [text]

Human culture is at odds with the biosphere is many ways, but one of the most insidious is our relationship to time. In fact, our disconnection from the natural world is possibly nowhere more acute or opaque than in the disintegration of our sense of time as a fundamental dimension of our existence. The origins of this aberration lie deep in the past and deep in our own psyches. In this paper, I will attempt to demonstrate the way that our current predicament is related to certain aspects of Modern Western intellectual and religious thought that have denied and obliterated time in an misguided attempt to deal with the problem of death.

Christopher Meyer. Blur : The Speed of Change in the Connected Economy. Perseus Books, 1998

Jacob Needleman . Time and the Soul. Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 2003

This book is addressed to everyone who is starved for time, i.e. everyone. We are all living in a culture that traps us into doing too many things, taking on too many responsibilities, facing too many choices and saying yes to too many opportunities. Nearing the end of over a century of inventions designed to save time, we find ourselves bereft of time itself.

What used to be considered a sign of success--being busy, having many responsibilities, being involved in many projects or activities--is now being felt as an affliction. It is leading us nowhere. More and more it is being experienced as meaningless.

This is the real significance of our problem with time. It is a crisis of meaning. What has disappeared is meaningful time. It is not technology or the accelerating influence of money; it is not global capitalism that is responsible for the time famine. The root of our modern problem with time is neither technological, sociological, economic nor psychological. It is metaphysical. It is a question of the meaning of human life itself.

The aim of this book is to uncover the link between our pathology of time and the eternal mystery of what a human being is meant to be in the universal scheme of things. The wisdom teachings of the world, each in its own way, have spoken of what we may call the soul, the spirit, the timeless, the eternal in man. But the challenge is to approach these ancient ideas in a way that is practical, that can actually lead us toward a solution of our problem. Words alone, no matter how sacred; ideas alone, no matter how profound, are not enough to help us confront our problem with time. But words, properly received; ideas, thoughtfully pondered; stories and images heard and attended to with an open heart, can help us feel the relationship between the question of our being and the problem of our life in time, after which ideas can find their proper place in our minds. In any case, this is how the author has written this book. A story and an image can enter our psyche in a way that concepts and analyses cannot. And so this examination of time and the human soul should perhaps begin, as all true stories begin, with the suddenly pregnant phrase: Anjula Razdan . Take Your Time. Utne magazine, January / February 2005 [text]

Stephan Rechtschaffen. Time Shifting : Creating More Time to Enjoy Your Life. Main Street Books; 1997

Jeremy Rifkin. Time Wars, The Primary Conflict in Human History. Henry Holt and Company, 1987

Louis Servan-Schreiber. The Art of Time, Pearson, Addison and Wesley 1989

Times of Our Lives

Time wars

Taking Our Time: Remaking the Temporal Order
By Mike Donaldson
University of Western Australia Press, 1996. 206 pp., $26.95
Reviewed by Phil Shannon

Any passing extraterrestrial from an advanced civilisation would be scratching their two heads with puzzlement if they examined some of the statistics Mike Donaldson presents in his new book on time and its discontents. Official unemployment in Australia is glued at 8-9% (over 20% if we add in hidden unemployment and underemployment), yet those in work are working longer hours (25%, indeed, working over 49 hours a week).

Surely all this extra work could be shared around to relieve unemployment, a solution so simple, yet so difficult in a temporal order controlled by the Time Lords who own not only the factories and offices and our labour but also our time. Donaldson (lecturer in Sociology at Wollongong University) argues that this crazy situation of too much work and not enough time for some people, and not enough work and too much time for others, is a structural defect of capitalism with its incessant quest for competitiveness through greater productivity.

Donaldson examines how "capitalism is seeking to make night into day and every day the same" in order to extract maximum productivity (more output for lower costs). Employers seek more shift work, more part-time and casual (disposable) workers, a wider spread of hours (starting earlier and ending later), more weekend work, all without labour overheads such as penalty rates. In many industries, Saturday and Sunday have become just another day at the salt mines.

As well as this "flexibilisation" which has eroded the standard eight-hour-a-day, five-day week (now worked by less than half of all workers in Australia) has come "intensification" through speed-up, closer supervision, failure to match staffing levels with workload and other techniques of the modern slave-driver.

The attempt to appropriate workers' time for the needs of production and profit, argues Donaldson, has been a major task of capitalism from the industrial revolution, when the new class of wage labourers had to be broken into the rhythms of industrial clock time. For the pre-proletariat with their seasonal rhythms of work interspersed with long spells of leisure, numerous feast days, unofficial holidays and celebrations, it had been party, party, party until Mr Top Hat and Big Cigar crashed the scene with requirements for rigid adherence to clock time and factory discipline.

The organised working class soon began resistance to the theft of their time. The struggles were long and often bitter, but they bore fruit. Sydney stonemasons won the eight hour day in 1855, the first in the world.

The struggle over ownership of time has been central to the history of industrial struggle, argues Donaldson, summing up the record as follows:

"Not all campaigns were successful, nor was the price paid for victory always bearable, or the gains won irrevocable. To the contrary ... torches were knocked to the ground, extinguished, rekindled; ground was gained, lost, regained."

The price paid has included loss of public holidays, meal breaks, penalty rates, the standard working week. Donaldson notes that enterprise bargaining has been a major tool used by employers for appropriating workers' non-work time. Union leaderships have pitched in, he also notes, trading off the gains from past time wars in the misconceived quest for greater productivity in the "national interest".

As well as the big set piece industrial battles, there has been "time banditry", low level guerilla resistance picking off isolated minutes from the boss, including unscheduled breaks, stretching a tea break, gossip via electronic mail and telephone, ducking off to have a haircut ("well, it grew during work time, didn't it?").

Winning time off at and from work to improve the quality of life outside paid work with family and friends, and slowing down the pace of work to counter stress, are still concerns that beat strongly in the chests of the working class. Resentment at the theft of our time is real ("What did your last slave die from?" is an expression that has escaped many a worker's lips in response to unreasonable work demands); it could and should be a focus for action by the union movement.

Writing from a historical materialist framework (No, Virginia, not all the Marxists in academia have drowned in the post-modernist swamp), Donaldson has produced an accessible, informative book of great relevance to the working class, particularly women workers with their double shift of paid work and domestic work. Donaldson also has a good discussion on Aboriginal conceptions of time and the confrontation with capitalist clock time.

If you have ever felt that time was shrinking, that you are finishing the day at work further behind than when you started, and wonder whatever happened to the standard eight-hour work day, then Donaldson's book has the answers to help us in the time wars.

Waverly Fitzgerald. Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 1, number 16
October 21, 2003, Orionids


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Living in Season: Take Back Your Time Day
At a recent writing conference, I was pitching my book, Living in Season, to an editor for a New York publishing company.

"It's about living in rhythm with natural time," I said. She looked puzzled. "Is it a time management book?" I shuddered, thinking of the book that shifted my thinking about time, Jeremy Rifkin's Time Wars in which he points out that we treat time just like we treat the earth, as a resource
to be managed and exploited.

"Not at all," I said. "This is the opposite."

"Then I don't understand what problem you're solving," she replied.

"Maybe that people are too busy," I suggested.

She dismissed that with a wave of her hand. "That's not a problem!"

I was surprised to learn that people in New York apparently don't experience the time scarcity that afflicts all my friends in the Northwest (and actually I know this isn't true since I frequently read articles in the Sunday New York Times (my weekly glimpse into life as it's lived in New York) about overscheduling).

Still I think this editor's dismissal of my topic is pretty typical of the way people deal with time. It's so intangible, an abstract concept, that is all around us but we can't touch or feel it, yet it's the river in which we swim.

That's why I love the way the organizers of Take Back Your Time Day (October 24) have focused on issues that Americans can touch and feel: vacation days and work hours. Americans work on average nine weeks more than our European counterparts, which means that if we all stopped working on October 24, the date chosen for Take Back Your Time day, and didn't resume until January 1st, we'd catch up. Despite all our time-saving devices (remember when computers were going to help us save time?), Americans work more hours than ever before. And this trend coincides with other disturbing trends like the fact that American kids now spend half the time outside they did in 1980.

In earlier times, our lives were oriented around the rhythms of the earth. Hunters and gatherers responded to the movements of the animals they hunted and the growth cycle of the plants they harvested. Despite our beliefs about the difficulty of this lifestyle, modern hunter-gatherers work an average of two hours a day taking care of their survival needs. The rest of their time is spent in creating art (telling stories, carving wood, singing) and socializing.

As the nature of work changed, so did our relationship to time. A hunter-gatherer only gathers enough food to get through the next day. A farmer, on the other hand, plans ahead. The seed must be planted at a certain time of the year to flourish. Yet once the seed is planted, the task is done. Plants can't be hurried. Most humans, lived of necessity, in harmony with the seasons. Even activities like trade, because it was dependent on ship travel, were seasonal. Until the invention of canned food, wars were fought in the summer, because that was the only time an army of hungry men could be fed off the bounty of the land.

The Industrial Revolution inaugurated a new kind of work and a new relationship to time. No longer tied to the natural cycle, or the cycle of day and night once electricity was invented, workers could produce goods around the clock. Only laws prohibiting the exploitation of workers limited working hours to the arbitrary number of eight, a number still applied, as if it were magical to workers in fields as diverse as retail sales and the service industry. And then we got computers, which permit us to bank, shop, work and socialize 24/7. Our relationship to the natural world is totally lost in the process.

Jeremy Rikin writes:

It is ironic that in a culture which is committed to saving time we feel increasingly deprived of the very thing we value. The modern world of streamlined transportation, instantaneous communication, and time-saving technologies was supposed to free us from the dictates of the clock and provide us with increased leisure. Instead there never seems to be enough time.

We've been seduced by many myths about time. Just as we bought the spatial myth that "bigger is better," we have been trained to believe the temporal myth that "faster is better." We are strung along with the promise that if we work hard now, we'll be able to enjoy leisure time in the future. With linear metaphors like "climbing the ladder," we've been taught that life is an ascent, a process of constant improvement, in which depression, unemployment and recession are temporary problems to be resolved, when the cyclic metaphor of the seasons suggests that maybe we need time to retreat, to rest and to conserve.

Jeremy Rifkin calls people who challenge the cultural paradigms about time, "time heretics." There are many of us. We are the sort of people who aspire to a simpler and slower life, who are willing to give up income for the luxury of time. Some of us work part-time. Some of us home-school our children, preferring to let them learn at the pace of life rather than in the artificial environment of the schools. Some of us connect with the place we live by gardening or by supporting local businesses and buying local produce. We enjoy establishing new holiday traditions and reviving old ones.

Once I became a time heretic, I found a use for my passion for seasonal holidays as an advocate for a return to seasonal time. I developed a correspondence course, a book and more recently the website and holiday packets as a way to share this passion with others. I love the way living in season connects me to the natural world around me, I love the slower rhythm it provides for my life. And I love the notion of the circle which is the spiritual center of seasonal time. It complements my various spiritual leanings: my Catholic nature which finds meaning in patterns, my pagan self which likes to play with herbs and colors and other sensory symbols, and my Buddhist side which believes everything changes. Always, of course, the goal is to live in the present moment, for that is what living in season requires us to do.

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